[Congressional Record Volume 166, Number 203 (Wednesday, December 2, 2020)]
[House]
[Pages H6037-H6039]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




                              {time}  1700
   COIN METAL MODIFICATION AUTHORIZATION AND COST SAVINGS ACT OF 2020

  Mr. CLAY. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and pass the bill 
(H.R. 7995) to amend title 31, United States Code, to save Federal 
funds by authorizing changes to the composition of circulating coins, 
and for other purposes, as amended.
  The Clerk read the title of the bill.
  The text of the bill is as follows:

                               H.R. 7995

       Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of 
     the United States of America in Congress assembled,

     SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

       This Act may be cited as the ``Coin Metal Modification 
     Authorization and Cost Savings Act of 2020''.

     SEC. 2. SAVING FEDERAL FUNDS BY AUTHORIZING CHANGES TO THE 
                   COMPOSITION OF CIRCULATING COINS.

       Section 5112 of title 31, United States Code, is amended by 
     adding at the end the following:
       ``(x) Composition of Circulating Coins.--
       ``(1) In general.--Notwithstanding any other provision of 
     law, and subject to the other provisions of this subsection, 
     the Director of the United States Mint (referred to in this 
     subsection as the `Director'), in consultation with the 
     Secretary, may modify the metallic composition of circulating 
     coins to a new metallic composition (including by prescribing 
     reasonable manufacturing tolerances with respect to those 
     coins) if a study and analysis conducted by the United States 
     Mint, including solicitation of input, including input on 
     acceptor tolerances and requirements, from industry 
     stakeholders who could be affected by changes in the 
     composition of circulating coins, indicates that the 
     modification will--
       ``(A) reduce costs incurred by the taxpayers of the United 
     States;
       ``(B) be seamless, which shall mean the same diameter and 
     weight as United States coinage being minted on the date of 
     enactment of this subsection and that the coins will work 
     interchangeably in most coin acceptors using electromagnetic 
     signature technology; and
       ``(C) have as minimal an adverse impact as possible on the 
     public and stakeholders.
       ``(2) Notification to congress.--On the date that is at 
     least 90 legislative days before the date on which the 
     Director begins making a modification described in paragraph 
     (1), the Director shall submit to Congress notice that--
       ``(A) provides a justification for the modification, 
     including the support for that modification in the study and 
     analysis required under paragraph (1) with respect to the 
     modification;
       ``(B) describes how the modification will reduce costs 
     incurred by the taxpayers of the United States;
       ``(C) certifies that the modification will be seamless, as 
     described in paragraph (1)(B); and
       ``(D) certifies that the modification will have as minimal 
     an adverse impact as possible on the public and stakeholders.
       ``(3) Congressional authority.--The Director may begin 
     making a modification proposed under this subsection not 
     earlier than the date that is 90 legislative days after the 
     date on which the Director submits to Congress the notice 
     required under paragraph (2) with respect to that 
     modification, unless Congress, during the period of 90 
     legislative days beginning on the date on which the Director 
     submits that notice--
       ``(A) finds that the modification is not justified in light 
     of the information contained in that notice; and
       ``(B) enacts a joint resolution of disapproval of the 
     proposed modification.
       ``(4) Procedures.--For purpose of paragraph (3)--
       ``(A) a joint resolution of disapproval is a joint 
     resolution the matter after the resolving clause of which is 
     as follows: `That Congress disapproves the modification 
     submitted by the Director of the United States Mint.'; and
       ``(B) the procedural rules in the House of Representatives 
     and the Senate for a joint resolution of disapproval 
     described under paragraph (3) shall be the same as provided 
     for a joint resolution of disapproval under chapter 8 of 
     title 5, United States Code.''.

     SEC. 3. DETERMINATION OF BUDGETARY EFFECTS.

       The budgetary effects of this Act, for the purpose of 
     complying with the Statutory Pay-As-You-Go Act of 2010, shall 
     be determined by reference to the latest statement titled 
     ``Budgetary Effects of PAYGO Legislation'' for this Act, 
     submitted for printing in the Congressional Record by the 
     Chairman of the House Budget Committee, provided that such 
     statement has been submitted prior to the vote on passage.

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from 
Missouri (Mr. Clay) and the gentleman from Ohio (Mr. Gonzalez) each 
will control 20 minutes.
  The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Missouri.


                             General Leave

  Mr. CLAY. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members may 
have 5 legislative days within which to revise and extend their remarks 
and to include extraneous material thereon.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the 
gentleman from Missouri?
  There was no objection.
  Mr. CLAY. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of H.R. 7995, the Coin Metal 
Modification Authorization and Cost Savings Act of 2020. I thank the 
gentleman from Nevada (Representative Amodei) for his work on this 
bill, which authorizes the Director of the Mint, in consultation with 
the Secretary of the Treasury, to modify the metallic composition of 
circulating coins to better meet public demand for coins while seeking 
to reduce costs to taxpayers and preserve interoperability with 
existing coin acceptor technology.
  Despite the changes to our everyday lives brought on by the COVID-19 
pandemic, coin production is at an all-time high. Just this year, the 
U.S. Mint averaged a monthly production rate of approximately 1.27 
billion coins per month for a total of 15.2 billion coins over the past 
12 months. By comparison, the Mint produced 11.9 billion coins for all 
of 2019.
  Since 2006, metal prices have risen to where the unit costs of a 
penny and nickel exceed their face value. The U.S. Mint estimates that 
by adjusting the metal content of coins, the Federal Government could 
save between $10 million to $17 million per year.
  This bill would require any proposed change in the metallic 
composition of coins to both reduce costs to taxpayers and be seamless. 
This means that the diameter, weight, and electromagnetic signature of 
the new coins would operate interchangeably in most coin acceptors that 
use electromagnetic signature technology, such as vending machines, 
laundromats, and the self-checkout lines at your local grocery stores.
  This commonsense reform provides the Mint with the flexibility to 
save taxpayer dollars and avoid future supply chain disruptions while 
balancing the needs of stakeholders in ensuring that any new coins work 
within the existing coin acceptance infrastructure.
  This bill is supported by a wide range of industry stakeholders, 
including the National Automatic Merchandising Association, the Coin 
Laundry Association, and the Food Industry Association.
  Mr. Speaker, I thank Mr. Amodei for his work on this bill, and I urge 
Members to vote ``yes.''
  Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. GONZALEZ of Ohio. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may 
consume.
  Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of H.R. 7995, the Coin Metal 
Modification Authorization and Cost Savings Act of 2020.
  Mr. Speaker, title 31 of the United States Code establishes the 
monetary system on which our Nation relies. Section 5112, in 
particular, sets out the parameters by which the Secretary of the 
Treasury is authorized to mint and issue the coins that we use on a 
daily basis in the United States. Those parameters are incredibly 
detailed.
  For example, there are provisions outlining the number of circulating

[[Page H6038]]

coin programs, numismatic coins, better known as coins used to 
commemorate a person or event. The provisions even depict the metal 
composition requirements that every coin leaving the United States Mint 
must meet.
  In fact, different coins have different composition requirements. For 
example, ``The 5-cent coin is an alloy of 75 percent copper and 25 
percent nickel.'' One quarter and a dime must be ``clad . . . with 
three layers of metal. The two identical outer layers are an alloy of 
75 percent copper and 25 percent nickel. The inner layer is copper. The 
outer layers are metallurgically bonded to the inner layer and weigh at 
least 30 percent of the weight of the coin.''
  Mr. Speaker, H.R. 7995, introduced by my colleague, Congressman 
Amodei, from the great State of Nevada, would amend title 31. The bill 
would allow the United States Mint to research and make recommendations 
to Congress regarding changes to the metallic composition of those 
circulating coins we use every day.
  Once the Mint's research is complete, the Director of the Mint must 
report to Congress any proposed changes it seeks to make, including 
justifications for the changes.
  This report to Congress must include the following information. 
First, the report must describe how the proposed modifications will 
save taxpayer dollars. The report must describe how the modifications 
will be implemented without disrupting the current circulation of 
coins. Finally, the report must show that any modification will have 
minimal negative impact on the public.
  Mr. Speaker, let me make one thing clear. This bill maintains 
Congress' Article I authority over coins. The bill provides that if 
Congress, the entity constitutionally responsible for coinage, 
disagrees with or believes the modifications are too burdensome, it can 
stop the process. The bill provides for an expedited review process, 
similar to the Congressional Review Act, to stop any changes the Mint 
would make.
  This bill may seem like a strange idea. Why change the composition of 
coins? Isn't the old saying: If it isn't broke, don't fix it?
  Mr. Speaker, recent projections from the Mint estimate that the 
legislation would allow for potential savings of $4 million more 
annually by changing the metal composition of the nickel and potential 
savings of up to $14 million annually by changing the dime and quarter. 
These projected numbers do not account for the penny, which would 
undoubtedly increase the savings to taxpayers.
  Needless to say, these savings are not chump change.
  Mr. Speaker, I am not a coin expert. But I can say that if the Mint 
is able to save the U.S. taxpayer considerable money by altering the 
metal composition of circulating coins, we should give the coin experts 
the chance to make their case.
  H.R. 7995 makes sense. It is a commonsense cost-savings bill. It is 
for this reason that I support this bill, and I urge my colleagues to 
support it as well. Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. CLAY. Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. GONZALEZ of Ohio. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman 
from Tennessee (Mr. John W. Rose).
  Mr. JOHN W. ROSE of Tennessee. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in 
opposition to H.R. 7995, the Coin Metal Modification Authorization and 
Cost Savings Act of 2020.
  I first want to thank the bill's sponsor for his willingness to amend 
the bill to address some of the concerns both Members and stakeholders 
have raised. I believe that, as a result, we have a better bill before 
us today. However, I do not think these changes went far enough.
  This legislation still cedes congressional authority and represents a 
radical shift in the balance of power.
  Section 8, Clause 5 of Article I of the Constitution grants Congress 
the power ``to coin money, regulate the value thereof, and of foreign 
coin, and fix the standard of weights and measures.''
  I am having trouble understanding why we would willingly hand over a 
duty specifically given to the Congress in the Constitution. 
Historically, Congress has been reluctant to relinquish that power to 
fix the standard of coin weight and measure to the executive branch and 
has balked at similar pieces of legislation over separation of powers 
concerns.
  We continue to cede congressional authority to the executive branch, 
and history reveals disastrous results from doing so. I, too, believe 
we should look for efficiency in government as well as opportunity to 
save taxpayer dollars. However, it should not come at the cost of 
willfully handing over specific duties to us in the Constitution in the 
process.
  Mr. Speaker, although well intentioned, I believe this is an 
important issue that deserves a thoughtful discussion and debate, 
something a hearing would have provided, and its consideration should 
not be expedited without that debate.
  Mr. CLAY. Mr. Speaker, I would inquire through the Chair if my 
colleague has any remaining speakers on his side.
  Mr. GONZALEZ of Ohio. Mr. Speaker, we have two speakers remaining.
  Mr. CLAY. Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. GONZALEZ of Ohio. Mr. Speaker, I yield 30 seconds to the 
gentleman from Tennessee (Mr. David P. Roe).
  Mr. DAVID P. ROE of Tennessee. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in 
opposition to this bill. This bill would shift the constitutional power 
to coin money and regulate its value from Congress to the executive 
branch.
  While I applaud the effort to give the Mint flexibility to reduce 
costs, this bill has the unintended effect of relinquishing Congress' 
constitutional power to coin money to the executive branch. We see this 
shift of power all the time in this body.
  It is the prerogative of Congress to regulate the country's coinage. 
Let's vote to maintain this prerogative. Mr. Speaker, I urge my 
colleagues to oppose suspending the rules and passing H.R. 7995.
  Mr. CLAY. Mr. Speaker, I have no further speakers, and I reserve the 
balance of my time.

  Mr. GONZALEZ of Ohio. Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman 
from Nevada (Mr. Amodei).
  Mr. AMODEI. Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleagues from Missouri and Ohio 
for their graciousness in granting me some time, and also my colleagues 
from Tennessee for their comments.
  In short, this bill is about savings. It has already been mentioned, 
H.R. 7995 wants to save money when it comes to the fact that it costs 
the Mint almost a half-cent to make a nickel. It costs them 1.75 cents 
to make a penny. The dime and the quarter are not far behind.
  No disrespect to anybody here who has spoken before, but quite 
frankly, when all else fails, read the Constitution and read the bill. 
The Constitution says that we have the ability to coin money, to 
regulate the value of the money, and foreign money, and we also have 
weights and measures.
  H.R. 7995 is not a long bill, ladies and gentlemen. Essentially, it 
is two pages long, and it talks about changing the metal content. 
Nowhere in Article I does it say anything about the content of the 
metal of the coin. So when my colleague from Missouri says this is a 
commonsense measure that is just meant to save money, it is like that 
is it. There is no mystery here.
  We lose money on every one of those pennies and nickels that we coin. 
We want to regulate. We want to give the Mint the ability to regulate 
the metal content.
  I am going to say it once more, and then I will stop. We want, 
through H.R. 7995, to give the Mint the ability to regulate the metal 
content of the coin. None of the things that are covered in this 
provision are in the Constitution, with all due respect.
  But guess what? It is not like: Okay, that is it. End of analysis. 
Please support the bill.
  The last part is this. Despite the fact that it is not in there about 
metal content and changing any of the specifically enumerated 
constitutional provisions, there are still provisions in this bill that 
say: But out of an abundance of caution, let's go ahead and make sure 
that the Congress knows when we change the metallic content of a coin, 
with the idea of saving money for taxpayers, and make sure that other 
stakeholders don't have objections.
  So, if anything, we have expanded the meaning of that provision in 
the Constitution to say, oh, by the way,

[[Page H6039]]

let's talk to Congress and make sure they are okay, even though it is 
not in this section.
  So, with all due respect, I would request your favorable 
consideration. I thank the committee of jurisdiction for its look at 
this, and I urge your support.
  Mr. GONZALEZ of Ohio. Mr. Speaker, I am prepared to close.
  Mr. Speaker, I would simply urge my colleagues to support H.R. 7995, 
and I yield back the balance of my time.
  Mr. CLAY. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself the balance of my time.
  Mr. Speaker, this bipartisan bill is a commonsense reform that 
provides the Mint with the flexibility needed to meet consumer demand 
for coins while saving taxpayer dollars.
  This bill ensures that modifications will operate interchangeably and 
without disruption to existing coin acceptor infrastructure.
  Mr. Speaker, I urge Members to vote ``yes'' on this bill, and I yield 
back the balance of my time.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The question is on the motion offered by the 
gentleman from Missouri (Mr. Clay) that the House suspend the rules and 
pass the bill, H.R. 7995, as amended.
  The question was taken.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. In the opinion of the Chair, two-thirds 
being in the affirmative, the ayes have it.
  Mr. JOHN W. ROSE of Tennessee. Mr. Speaker, on that I demand the yeas 
and nays.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to section 3 of House Resolution 
965, the yeas and nays are ordered.
  Pursuant to clause 8 of rule XX, further proceedings on this motion 
will be postponed.

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